Value Adding in Australia – the Beginning of the End?

Mount Isa Mine in June 1962 as seen from the t...
Mount Isa copper smelter - Image via Wikipedia

News Alert: Smelting and Refining of Mount Isa copper in Queensland to cease.

Guest post by Viv Forbes

The first industries of Australia were farming and mining and these two have been the backbone of the nation ever since. Both are threatened by the taxaholics in Canberra.

Shorthorn and Brahman cattle arrived with the first fleet and coal was discovered by convicts at Newcastle in 1791, just three years after the First Fleet arrived. The first Merino sheep arrived in 1797 and coal mining started in 1798. Since then mining and farming have earned the majority of Australia’s income.

Wool and wheat, gold and silver, butter and cheese, copper and lead-zinc, leather and tallow, iron and steel, sugar and wine, coal and hydro-carbons, meat and mutton, aluminium and uranium, timber and fish, nickel and titanium – these comprise Australia’s Magic Pudding.

But the Gillard/Green/Garnaut Carbon Tax Coalition hate our primary industries because they all depend on carbon fuels and produce the carbon dioxide that feeds our crops. Our backbone industries are seen as dreaded “polluters” and treated like noxious weeds and serpents to be removed from the green Garden of Eden.

Our pioneering squatters and prospectors blazed the trails which Cobb and Co turned into the roads of Australia. Wool from the merinos, almost alone, carried the nation until the 1850’s when metals started to create wealth – lead, copper and gold were discovered in the 1840’s and 1850’s. Mining started soon after and then cattle raising became profitable to feed the miners. Better roads, towns and then railways were built to move our primary products to the smelters, spinners, millers and tanners in Europe. Ever since, our great primary industries and the industries dependent on them have supported all Australians.

Mining is largely a materials handling operation, and it needs a lot of energy for mining, crushing, grinding, smelting, refining and transport.

The first copper mines extracted only high grade surface ore. They mined it selectively using human muscle power, packed it to the coast using camels, donkeys, horses and bullocks, and shipped it on sailing clippers to smelters in Europe. All stages used politically correct “green” energy.

But “green” transport moves slowly. Some loads of ore that looked profitable when they left the Peak Downs Copper Mine in central Queensland on donkeys, were sold at a loss, months later, when they landed at the copper smelter in Wales. Mining was thus an intermittent business – booming when metal prices were high, closing when prices fell.

But the high grade surface ores never last long, and the deeper primary ore is generally much lower grade. It was OK to send 40% copper ore from Cloncurry to the coast using horses and drays, but ore containing just 2% copper would not cover the costs.

So the first metal processing started with primitive on-site smelters (often using wood and charcoal, both “green” energy). Smelters removed most of the impurities leaving crude metal with +95% copper which was exported to overseas refineries. Later, Australians developed the flotation process to produce metal concentrates to feed the smelters. And trucks and trains started to carry value-added products to the coast.

The great Mount Isa Mine was discovered in 1923 – lead smelting started in 1931 and metal smelting at Mount Isa has continued ever since – 80 years of value adding in Australia.

Early in World War II, Australia found itself short of copper and Mount Isa was asked if it could produce copper. A crash program took place to convert the lead smelter to producing copper and the first blister copper was poured at Mount Isa in1942. Refining of blister copper started in Townsville in 1959.

Mines can only be where the deposits are found. But smelters and refineries can be located anywhere between the mine and the ultimate customer for the metals. And just three factors dictate where metal processing is located – political costs, processing costs and transport costs. The political cost (tax burden) depends on the common sense of the electorate and their knowledge of where the real wealth is created. The processing and transport costs depend mainly on the local costs of wages and energy.

The first trains and power stations all used steam engines burning low cost local coal. Then came cheap diesel transport for trucks and trains. Now electric trains are again running on cheap Australian coal. This low cost carbon energy supported our high wages and ensured that mineral processing became a big business in Australia – iron and steel, lead-zinc-silver, copper, nickel, aluminium, gold, uranium, limestone, coal, oil and gas are all processed to some extent in Australia.

There is no point introducing a carbon tax that does not increase the cost and thus reduce the use of coal and diesel energy. Mining and mineral processing and transport probably consume over 50% of Australia’s electricity, which is mainly coal powered with minor gas. And they are huge users of diesel for utes, trucks, shovels, dozers, scrapers, mobile power and drilling rigs. Therefore, no matter what they say, all of Australia’s mineral processing advantages are threatened by their carbon tax.

The recent Xstrata decision to phase out their world class copper smelting and refining operations in Australia tells us that the taxes, processing, transport and energy costs that Xstrata expects in Australia are already uncompetitive.

The dreamers in the Canberra cocoon always drool about “value adding”. Their carbon tax will surely cause all mineral processing plants in Australia to lose value, and some will surely close. Low cost coal and diesel power will no longer support our high wages. The value adding will take place in Asia.

We are watching a slow tragedy unfold – the end of an era. Once the mineral processing plants leave, they will never come back. We will be back to the pioneering era of mining – dig it out and ship it off.

And the final tragic irony of the Isa story is this – sending partly processed copper concentrate overseas, instead of smelting it at Mount Isa, will about triple the transport burden and do the same to carbon dioxide emissions.

Viv Forbes

May 2011

Reference – Xstrata to phase out copper smelting and refining:


Viv Forbes is a geologist, mineral economist and farmer. He has spent a lifetime working in government, mining and farming in Queensland and NT, from field geologist in the Bowen Basin, to uranium exploration at Rum Jungle,  to mill clerk at Mount Isa, to mining investment analyst in Sydney and Brisbane and to company director of gas, oil and coal companies. He should be retired but refuses to. He and his wife Judy live at Rosevale harvesting solar energy from natural pasture using beef cattle and meat sheep.

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Patrick Davis
May 23, 2011 2:47 am

Great read!
And on Australian MSM newscasts tonight, sea level rises will be 1 metre by 2100, swamping Sydney, the city to be worst affected. Gillar/Brown and the AGW and carbon tax supporters really are pushing this one hard. There was a bit of a drop in the number of alarmist artciles, but starting today, Aussie MSM is back to its pro-AGW coverage.
No mention of Canada being sensible nor any mention of plans in the UK to build nuclear power plants.

May 23, 2011 2:56 am

But—but—but, carbon is evil!

Patrick Davis
May 23, 2011 3:00 am

From the article…
“We are watching a slow tragedy unfold – the end of an era. Once the mineral processing plants leave, they will never come back. We will be back to the pioneering era of mining – dig it out and ship it off.”
It has already started. I forget the company details, but they have gone offshore to Indonesia to process rare earth ores because;
1. Energy is too expensive and will get more so.
2. Wages are too expensive.
3. Environmental compliance costs are too expesive.
4. Taxes too high.
5. Larger capacity plants already located offshore.
6. Larger sources of water (I guess that means cheaper).
To name a few of “reasons” why the company went offshore for that operation. However, there is local opposition to the plant due to fears of radioactive Thorium waste.
It seems our Australian (She’s Welsh, UK) “leaders” really want to win that race to the bottom. If Gillard annouces the actual detail and cost of the carbon tax, mark my words, within a year many companies will announce they are off. It’s already happening in many industry sectors, even in IT, it’ll just add fuel to fire, and speed the process up.

Dodgy Geezer
May 23, 2011 3:03 am

Good post – I have only one minor comment.
“..And the final tragic irony of the Isa story is this – sending partly processed copper concentrate overseas, instead of smelting it at Mount Isa, will about triple the transport burden and do the same to carbon dioxide emissions…”
I think that by now we should be fighting back against the idea that CO2 emissions are harmful. They are not. We currently have low CO2 levels in the atmosphere, and there would be huge advantages to agriculture in doubling them. Now that we know that neither humanity nor the climate will not be affected greatly by doing this, I suggest that we should take every opportunity to push for this, rather than accepting that CO2 outputs should always be minimised…

May 23, 2011 3:03 am

Julia still expects a tax levied in Canberra to lower the temperature in Queensland, it’s just not going to work. If taxes lowered the temperature we would now be in an ice age. The Labor Party want the tax, the people have showed in the recent polls that they do not want the Labor party.
70% of Queenslanders do not beleive in man made climate change, 60 % of voters would prefer the LNP to get into power instead of Julia’s party.
I’m giving my vote for the next state election to The Queensland Party, they want to put checks in place on Coal Seam Gas exploration and will attempt to keep the larger parties honest.

May 23, 2011 3:04 am

New Anthem required? “Retreat, Australia: Fear”

May 23, 2011 3:12 am

This is getting really serious. These eco-fascist-loons have got to be stopped.

May 23, 2011 3:15 am

“… and produce the carbon dioxide that feeds our crops”
Gosh, whatever did crops do before the invention of our primary industries?

Rick Bradford
May 23, 2011 3:22 am

It’s in line with all Green-powered decisions; they always end up with a solution which is worse than the original problem. Such are the perils of making decisions on a purely emotional basis.

John Marshall
May 23, 2011 3:24 am

Vote these ignoramuses out of office. Or riot in the streets.
What do these political fools think Australia can export if not food crop and minerals. They can’t exist on much else.
Do what California is doing- exporting jobs to India and China. Once these people have a foothold the price will rocket.

Andy G55
May 23, 2011 3:24 am

We MUST , somehow, find a way to force an election, before this idoicy is passed through parliament !
the future of Australia depends on it.

Scottish Sceptic
May 23, 2011 3:25 am

In some ways, Global warming is just another scare like ozone, the millennium bug and Swine flu. Like all these, a bit of “science” leads to a massive media and then political action, real science finally catches up dousing the source of the scare … the MSM get bored trying to make mountain out of a rapidly eroding molehill and finally the politicians try to pretend it never happened.
But, I’ve been thinking about GW and whilst we’re well into the “couldn’t care” phase on MSM coverage (in most of the world – not Australia obviously), I can’t see how the politicians are ever going to pretend it never happened.
For a start half of Scotland is going to be covered by their bird mincers and its got to be hitting tourism big time – bird mincers they were ever so keen to be photographed when it all started – but bird mincers that just don’t seem to have the same PR kudos now! Then there are the carbon taxes, the electricity supply networks that have been ransacked to remove or handicap all the decent generators (engineering wise).
Swine flu ended when when the politicians stopped having meetings to show they were doing anything and all they have to show is a hoard of useless & expensive vaccines. They didn’t commit to decades of billions of pounds of public subsidy taking from the poor to give to rich land owners and money grabbing wind developers.
There will be no “soft landing” for the political elite when this global warming fiasco ends. You can’t just ignore the huge gaping hole in the Western economies blown out by these absurd carbon taxes – they’re not coincidental stores of vaccines – they are hundreds of thousands of jobs gone. Not just now, but as China is more than willing to take them for herself – they will be gone forever.
This scare won’t just be forgotten – we’ll be paying for these damned bird mincers for decades, paying for the lost jobs, paying for the nose diving economy and each and every year the pressure will grow to make the politicians pay for their mistake.

May 23, 2011 3:27 am

Its madness. We have a Government appointee to an ‘independent’ Climate Commission reporting to the Government that yes, the AGW theory is ‘settled’, that sceptics are ‘denialists’, that “the deniers were making a very emotional attack on the science – it was not a rational criticism”
All cheered on by his fellow appointees included Tim Flannery who is earning $180,000 a year for his role on the Commission.
The report was gleefully accepted by our PM and seized on as ‘proof’ that we need a Carbon tax.

Anthea Collins
May 23, 2011 3:43 am

Speaking of Australia – what has happened to the Thompson Family?

May 23, 2011 3:44 am

This man talks plain common sense. Rule him out of court immediately!
The new unhappy lords in Canberra won’t hear this, they are reached only by the schmoozing of the well dressed lobbyists paid by special interests who have much to gain by crippling the traditional industries of Australia,,, for a while.
Then they’ll move on to pastures new, pausing only to asset strip and sell off the ruins of a once prosperous nation.
Unless the people wake up.
Wake up Australians! Shake to Earth like dew
The chains which in slumber have fallen on you!

Roger Carr
May 23, 2011 3:44 am

Better roads, towns and then railways were built to move our primary products to the smelters, spinners, millers and tanners in Europe.
Prose that sings, Viv! and all faithfully true — but you left out the riverboats; a magic part of our haulage history.
Shame the people in raptures are going to feed it all to the birds… (and Polly actually only ever asked for a cracker; not the whole shebang…).

Paul Coppin
May 23, 2011 3:45 am

Its worse than we thought. When these taxation schemes significantly impact primary resource management, it results in the concentration of essential resource products into the hands of fewer people and nations. The loss of a local copper extraction facility puts the host nation at a huge future disadvantage in the “information age”. We’ve already seen the effect of rare earth supply issues in computer technology production. There is a minor silver lining: resources not extracted now will be avialable at a later date when the demand price makes it worthwhile to continue production.

May 23, 2011 3:49 am

As most reasonable people know, the effects of shutting down an industry like this are far reaching. By way of example, I am sitting here in New Hampshire, USA concerned because Mt Isa is a customer of my customer. I receive not insignificant revenue directly from Mt Isa as a result of software I wrote some years ago. It appears that I will be losing that revenue stream eventually.
The thing is, the enviro-jihadists will rejoice over a (supposedly) dirty, greedy, polluting business like this being shut down. But they never think about economic devastation that will be born by the innocent workers and inhabitants of Mt Isa. Nor will they ever know about the layoffs that will occur in the Brisbane water testing laboratory when a large chunk of their revenue is torn away. Indeed, the reverberations couldn’t be felt any further from Mt Isa than Manchester, NH, USA, yet they will be.
And this is just one mine… so far.

May 23, 2011 3:54 am

The Gillard government has today released a Climate Change Committee report which prophecies climate caused doom and gloom and declares the science is settled – skeptics better get over it.
The general public is not buying the report.
My historical family was involved in Gold Mining in Australia between 1865 and 1901. They moved all gold mining activities to South Africa in 1901 after labor costs got too high. (Unions got too strong). The gold seams in the Australian mines did not run out – it was just uncompetitive to mine with the high cost Australian labor force.

Patrick Davis
May 23, 2011 4:07 am

“John Marshall says:
May 23, 2011 at 3:24 am
Vote these ignoramuses out of office. Or riot in the streets.
Do what California is doing- exporting jobs to India and China. Once these people have a foothold the price will rocket.”
There is no alternative in Aus, they are all alike and support some sort of “carbon tax” (Labor) or “direct action” (Read taxpayer funded “action”, or, errrmmm…a tax – Liberal). Riot in the streets, in Aus? You are kidding! Too much sport on TV for that. Now pull AFL, RFL and V8 Super Cars etc off FTA TV, yeah you’d have riots!
Jobs and mfg have already started to leave Australia. An ironic example would be the former Labor Govn’t of New South Wales (NSW). All state Govn’t uniforms, nurse, police, bus driver etc etc, WAS made in NSW. It is now made in and imported from China.
“Brendan says:
May 23, 2011 at 3:27 am”
That’s AU$180,000 p/a for that PART-TIME position. He receives other income. Clearly to be a Govn’t climate change adviser is a real earner.

May 23, 2011 4:10 am

Voting doesn’t work. Time for the Anglosphere Spring.

May 23, 2011 4:14 am

bit of “science”
That nails it.
A little learning is a dangerous thing;
drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:
there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
and drinking largely sobers us again.

May 23, 2011 4:18 am

“Twas well observed by my Lord Bacon, That a little knowledge is apt to puff up, and make men giddy, but a greater share of it will set them right, and bring them to low and humble thoughts of themselves.”
Allegedlly, there is a degree of misquotation here, but who cares?

May 23, 2011 4:23 am

“”The political cost (tax burden) depends on the common sense of the electorate and their knowledge of where the real wealth is created.””
With the bodged voting system used in Austrailia there is not much hope there.
I await the inevitable.

graham gofton
May 23, 2011 4:23 am

Viv Forbes is to be congratulated for bringing this to the attention of the world.
Xstrata stated it has been forced into transferring these carbon emissions from a very remotely located plant in the Southern Hemisphere to a processing plant in the already overpolluted Northern Hemisphere, probably in China, by economic circumstances here in Australia. The result of their decision enviromentally, will be no more than ex. mining employees and local business employees going on to government welfare type “green jobs” here in Australia, if they are lucky.
This is a terrible indication of the tragic attitude of Australian voters who have endorsed the views of the current Queensland and Australian Governments.
Few people realise that as little as 40 years ago this company was the number one company by market capitalisation in Australia, and a huge generator of wealth for this nation . It was also the financial strength of the Queensland economy. The Mount Isa Mines Limited investments that Xstrata bought had a sound future, and I fully understand the local federal MP Bob Katter’s frustration with all the current government decisions.
I guess by now that you realise that I had invested most of my working life of more than 50 years associated with this proud Australian company. Xstrata, the swiss based international company, will no doubt survive and probably prosper from this action proposed by 2016. There will be many business employees, as opposed to government employees, all over Australia that will wonder at the “Climate Change Madness” that has obsessed our politicans when this starts to impact on their take home pay..
Reducing pollution is a great idea, and MIM did a good job of employing world’s best practise using CSIRO strategies where applicable. Where is the CSIRO now in defending Xstrata’s MIM operations from this projected backwards forced action by governments.?

May 23, 2011 4:23 am

I have no problem with scientists co-operating but I do when they regard themselves a governance groups. Professor Will Steffen ,is the head of the Climate Commission in Australia and he is a member of this group that wants control of water, food and economic policies.
There is no way known these people will desist. They want power and they do not care about the economic mess they leave behind.

May 23, 2011 4:28 am

Patrick Davis,
Sydney swamped by a 1 M sea level rise?
It must have change a lot since I traded there in the 1960s.
I seem to remember coming in past the Heads into a high sided natural harbour and that the quays were at least 1 M above the water and many were higher than that; and always having to walk uphill to get out of the dock areas.

May 23, 2011 4:34 am

Australia = the new Atlantis.
Lost in the waves
Waves of green taxes that is, ’cause sealevelrise wont be able to make it happen.
Bye Aussies, it was nice knowing you. Too bad you didnt see it coming.
If nothing else works anymore, you can always send smokesignals while cooking on your medieval stoves, so we can stay in touch with the last men and women standing.

Patrick Davis
May 23, 2011 4:39 am

“oldseadog says:
May 23, 2011 at 4:28 am”
Yes, that is the “threat” to Sydney (1 m sea level rise by 2100 – convieniently outside the life expectancy of the people making these claims, of course) we WILL be exposed to if we “don’t change” (Read, apply a tax, export industry, put up mincers of feathered flying protien). Its one finding from the “independent” agency setup by the Labor Govn’t, and released just before Gillard plans to impose her “planet saving” carbon tax. Now if she would stop repeating her words in ANY speach for about 2 minutes I am sure Australian contributions of CO2 would be more than halved.

May 23, 2011 4:43 am

Interesting the report presented today to PM Gillard was by Messers Steffen an academic originally from the US and climate Commissioner Flannery. The report apparently says that the deniers should be ignored because they don’t have the necessary qualifications or words to that effect. Whats that !! Mr Flannery is a paleontologist and Steffen is an alarmist warmer. This is the sort of stuff Steffen is spruiking:$file/CCAFSydney_SteffenPresentation.pdf
These are the so-called “independent” people ‘advising’ the government on climate change policy.
Lord help us all.

John of Cloverdale WA (Aus)
May 23, 2011 4:50 am

And as we hear the latest lies from our Climate (propaganda) Commissioner, Tim Flannery on TV tonight , the latest weather forcast for Australia is what we get because of the Flannery effect (which is similar to the Gore effect in your part of the world).
“Mon (23May2011) 8:00 pm EST
Thick cloud is crossing eastern QLD with a front, generating rain and thunderstorms. Cloud is swirling into a low over western NSW, generating a few showers. A cloud-band moving across SA, VIC and TAS with a second cold front is bringing a renewed burst of rain and cold winds.”
The Australian ski fields can look forward to a bumper season this year.

Bryn Thomas
May 23, 2011 4:51 am

The least Australian sceptics can do is write in the strongest terms to their MPs and point out how biassed and poorly based is this report. Be it on their heads if they support it. Unfortunately there are “economists” such as Turnbull waiting in the wings to take charge of the Opposition party and for whom this report is manna from heaven. We need an Opposition with the guts to stand up and not shilly shally around. The present crop is useless. A pox on both their houses. God help Australia because no-one else will. I despair.

May 23, 2011 4:53 am

Paul Coppin says:
May 23, 2011 at 3:45 am
There is a minor silver lining: resources not extracted now will be avialable at a later date when the demand price makes it worthwhile to continue production.

No. By that time all these resources would be controlled by the Communist Party of China through state owned Chinese banks. Mining operations, if necessary, would be restarted using imported African slave labor.
In case a domestic opposition would emerge against such a shameless exploitation, a friendly visit of the then far superior Zhōngguó Rénmín Jiěfàngjūn Hǎijūn (People’s Liberation Army Navy) in Sidney Harbor could set it straight in no time.

dave ward
May 23, 2011 5:15 am

I’d love to know what Ms Gillard thinks will provide jobs and income when all the heavy industry has departed, because it won’t be from tourism. Quite apart from the exorbitant taxes being levied on transport, I will not be putting myself through the hassle of multiple searches, and intrusive questioning that now accompany even the most mundane flight. Nor I suspect will many others.
I’m glad I visited ‘Oz back in the 80’s before all this cr*p was the norm…

spangled drongo
May 23, 2011 5:20 am

Patrick Davis and Old Seadog,
The most thorough study available of corrected southern Australian tide gauge data is that of Harvey et al. [2002] and is 0.11mm/yr which implies a rise of 1 cm by 2100.
Just think, 1 whole centimeter!
That’s why, for the whole of my lifetime I have never been conscious of any SLR.
Because there isn’t any!

Russell Duke
May 23, 2011 5:46 am

We all thought that “The Road Warrior” was just a cool movie. It will not be a cool reality.

May 23, 2011 5:47 am

The new report is nothing really new and is not even internally consistent..
Rather the thing to be worried about here is the truly blinkered focus on trying to scare the living daylights out of people with little regard to the real significance (or not) of what is being described. This report shows a unified disregard for considering any alternative or further accuracy seeking points of view; which in of itself is an insult to science and what worth that should hold in the eyes of the public.
This report is an embarrassment and its truly shameful that the retched thing has made it way into print under the pretense of being a ‘balanced’ review of the situation – shame on you!
Please do Australia a favor and communicate your despair with this report far and wide – Australia needs to send a clear message to our government that this sort of bullying of the electorate is not to be tolerated. Strike up a conversation with a work mate or someone on train, share/like this article far and wide; basically do what you can to ring the bells loud and clear. I thank you.

Paul R
May 23, 2011 5:58 am

It’s bad for the Isa, It’s good that they’re starting to piss off the wrong people.

May 23, 2011 6:44 am

The latest polls put the popularity of the government at 28% compared with the main opposition at 53%.
Both parties pretend to believe in AGW and the government is hell bound on taxing CO2 emissions.
The Sydney Morning Herald / Melbourne age plus the ABC (Australian national radio, TV, internet etc) are strongly pro AGW.
Some of the members of parliament on both sides are closet realists and I suspect that this includes both the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition.
We all live in dreamland, with the next election two and a half years away, unless the untidy Green/ Labor/ Independent coalition splits or somebody on the government dies (heaven forbid, as they say).
It will only take ONE to change sides for the opposition to regain government.
I expect when that eventually happens the light will gradually dawn.
The present government are multi skilled at making a mess of everything they attempt.
AGW is but one aspect of their inability to govern.
It’s all very frustrating while we wait.

May 23, 2011 6:50 am

You may be surprised at my claim that the PM is a realist rather than a true believer.
I say that on her track record right up to the election (forced Kevin Rudd [former PM that she then knifed] to drop his cap and trade plans – promised not to tax CO2 if elected).
She caught in a web of her own making – desperatly hanging on to the job of PM by pandering to the Greens, at the same time (I believe) she is attempting to do as little as possible to harm the economy.
The big problem is that she does not understand how business, markets or the economy works – like a kid playing with dangerous fireworks.
Oh well, we do lice in interesting times.

homo sapiens
May 23, 2011 7:02 am

Patrick Davis – It seems our Australian “leaders” really want to win that race to the bottom.
There is no possibility that Australia will beat the UK into reaching the abyss.
Despite the soaring levels of UK debt, cabinet ministers have agreed a far-reaching, legally binding “green deal” that will commit the UK to two decades of drastic cuts in carbon emissions. The package will require sweeping changes to domestic life, transport and business and will place Britain at the forefront of the global battle against climate change – for which every UK citizen is truly grateful (sarc).
Despite the misgivings of some ministers, David Cameron has added his support, and Energy Secretary Chris Huhne is now expected to tell parliament that agreement has been struck to back the plans in full up to 2027. He will tell MPs that the government will accept the recommendations of the independent committee on climate change for a new carbon budget. The deal puts the UK ahead of any other state in terms of the legal commitments it is making in the battle to curb greenhouse gases. Yippee! It makes one proud to be British! (sarc).

Tom E.
May 23, 2011 7:40 am

Waste Thorium, arggg!
Say what, and then there’s the solution, Thorium cycle reactors to power the trains and the smelters, win – win.
Sorry, too simple, I digress.

amicus curiae
May 23, 2011 7:58 am

another great item summed up well, and
if only the rapture had occurred and taken JuLIAR, or taken us and left her?
any act of god about now would be handy in the direction of Canvberra ie cyclone lightning stikes, volcanic eruptions
still flimflannery expects Gaia, sometime soon,
hope the true believers are packed and ready to go!

Grumpy Old Man
May 23, 2011 9:13 am

A one metre rise in sea level. I’ve been to Sydney. That could be easily tolerated, even if it’s true, which I suspect it ain’t. Time for all true Ozzies to fix bayonets and advance.

Steve from Rockwood
May 23, 2011 10:04 am

I never knew geologists could write – but this article was extremely well written and the last two paragraphs sum things up perfectly. Well done Viv!
This is happening in Canada. As mining/processing infrastructure reaches that later life point where some TLC is needed to keep things going (profitable) all the people who hated it to begin with swarm in for the kill. When they win, they never stop to look back over the shoulders to see what they have done. Lost jobs and in many cases the onset of serious decline for the communities that were supported by the mines.
A copper processing facility in Timmins was shut down a few years back with the loss of up to 600ish high paying jobs. Much of that copper will be no doubt processed in China and the finished products exported to Canada.
At least we’ll benefit from those green jobs…

May 23, 2011 11:11 am

This, while sad and bad for Australians, is a perfect example of economics and the law of supply and demand. Thanks for sharing. I doubt any of those in Oz (or the US) will learn from this, one thing that politics cannot white wash is the one Economic Law we know about. If you charge too much – no one buys, so you do not sell.

Henry chance
May 23, 2011 11:31 am

The socialist party suffered greatly in Spain yesterday. So much for the green dragon there.
Austrialia will lose socialism in the next election.
Question on trains, where are the electric freight trains? I only know of diesel that generate electric that runs electric at the wheels.

the Rossshire Mannie
May 23, 2011 1:29 pm

We tractor / truck drivers are great thinkers – all alone all day with no one to talk to but listening to it all on Radio: to sum up we have an interlaced society amongst the upper/ middle/ working etc – tis the IDIOT CLASS! Ruled by them , supported by them – and the rest of us ? – too busy getting on with life…………

May 23, 2011 1:59 pm

Any of those mines owned by Francisco d’Anconia?

el gordo
May 23, 2011 2:02 pm

You are correct, Sydney Harbor is a sunken valley so the city side wouldn’t flood, but on the south side around Botany Bay it’s fairly flat.
House prices in the area have continued to rise, which indicates the people are taking this news of increased 1m sea level with a grain of salt.

May 23, 2011 2:54 pm

Henry Chance:
The vast bulk of Qld coal exports are carried on electric hauled trains- the ones with overhead wires.
A very well written article Viv; I have sent your email on to friends and relatives.

May 23, 2011 3:30 pm

Patrick Davis @ May 23, 2011 at 3:00 am:
You are thinking of Lynas who shall be mining REOs (Rare Earth Oxides) at Mt Weld in Western Australia and shipping them to a sister company plant in Malaysia. There have been small protests in Malaysia over radiation fears from the processing plant (from thorium in the REO ores).

Ian W
May 23, 2011 3:50 pm

Patrick Davis says:
May 23, 2011 at 3:00 am
From the article…
“We are watching a slow tragedy unfold – the end of an era. Once the mineral processing plants leave, they will never come back. We will be back to the pioneering era of mining – dig it out and ship it off.”
It has already started. I forget the company details, but they have gone offshore to Indonesia to process rare earth ores because;
1. Energy is too expensive and will get more so.
2. Wages are too expensive.
3. Environmental compliance costs are too expesive.
4. Taxes too high.
5. Larger capacity plants already located offshore.
6. Larger sources of water (I guess that means cheaper).
To name a few of “reasons” why the company went offshore for that operation. However, there is local opposition to the plant due to fears of radioactive Thorium waste.

The problem with this is that the assumption is being made that this entire action is about CO2 emissions. It is not.
The intent of all this legislation is to remove industry from Australia.
Precisely the same intent is seen in Obama’s happy acceptance that if he continues with his current intent ‘energy prices will skyrocket’ – the only thing faster moving than energy prices will be the jobs going overseas.
The same with Chris Huhne and David Cameron- they _intend_ for these nasty messy industries to be moved ‘off-shore’ it is the one area in which they seem to be succeeding ask the steelworkers in Teeside.
These people are not _that_ stupid. They are deliberately deinsdustrializing their own countries while at the same time they send large quantities of monetary ‘aid’ to the same offshore countries that are taking the jobs.
As said above there will be no soft landing from this – the politicians would do well to study how the once revered Mussolini was treated when his ‘supporters’ woke up.

May 23, 2011 4:47 pm

Good article Viv – seems you haven’t lost the touch from our old anti-ID card days.
Just a “minor” example of “unintended consequences” that can be expected from all this.
About 120km south-east of Mt Isa is Phosphate Hill where large quantities of cheap Ammonium Phosphate (MAP and DAP) fertilisers are produced. Principle ingredients are:
Phosphate – which is mined locally,
Natural Gas – which is piped there, and
Sulphuric Acid which is manufactured from sulphur gases scrubbed from the refining emissions at Mt Isa and railed down to Phosphate Hill.
Virtually all the fertiliser from Phosphate Hill is exported and the facility is a multi-million dollar export earner for the country..
Presumably this, too, will disappear with the end of smelting operations at Isa.

Keith Minto
May 23, 2011 5:43 pm

Yes, well structured article.
The proposed carbon tax may well have been a factor in the the decision to close Mt Isa and Townsville smelters by 2016, but I see this as just another example of ‘the great low wage attractor’, China, enabling Xstrata, a Swiss based company to make a commercial decision to refine the ore at lower cost. A shame for Australia, but our long history of Unionism has kept wages high.

May 23, 2011 7:46 pm

“…the taxes, processing, transport and energy costs that Xstrata expects in Australia are already uncompetitive.”
This is not just about the carbon tax. All nations are currently facing rises in energy costs. A major factor here is the cost of Australian labour, which is set to get worse under Gillard’s draconian IR laws. The gross negligence of the carbon dioxide tax aside, the real, and utterly dismal failure of this government has been the complete destruction of Australia’s hard earned workplace reforms. For this our current prime minister is directly responsible, since they were her policies.
The situation is beyond repair because of the past treatment of Howard’s workplace reforms by the MSM, which has painted itself into a corner and can no longer speak honestly on the issue.

Michael Klein
May 23, 2011 7:55 pm

I’m a little skeptical of this article. The author shows the same confidence in his predictions that climate scientist are accused of having. His predictions are possible, but by no means certain. The fact of the matter is, economic policy is always a tradeoff, and increased taxes are no exception. A carbon tax has the advantage that it gives companies economic incentives to lower their carbon footprint. After the pain of the initial tax increase fades away, payers seek to lower their tax bill by engaging in socially beneficial behavior. I say, go for it, Australia!

May 23, 2011 8:10 pm

Bryn Thomas says:
May 23, 2011 at 4:51 am
“The present crop is useless. A pox on both their houses. God help Australia because no-one else will.”
Absolutely. It wouldn’t matter which party was in power, they’ll both bow to the will of the NWO and the mandate of the Club of Rome. If the Libs had gained the upper hand in the last election we would today have Tony Abbott imposing a carbon tax, and the Gillard/Swan/Combet team arguing against it.
We should never forget that Abbott is one of the inner ring of morons of the Howard/Costello abomination that gave us the GST (and tax “simplicomplification” and “work unchoices”) against our will.
“Never never a GST” was the mantra in the beginning, similar to Juliar’s “No carbon tax under a government I lead.” But Howard’s turn-around was imposed by a slightly less abrupt mechanism. His change of mind was put to the vote, and Aussies tried hard not to re-elect him. His Liberal Party gained only 37% of the primary vote, and our silly “preference vote system” did the rest to give them a supposed (i.e. artificial) majority.
Now I don’t know about Yankee Webster’s dictionary, but my Oxford doesn’t seem to award the status of mandate to a mere 37%. But John rabbited on rabidly about his coveted but imaginary “mandate from the Australian people” to introduce the GST.
So yes, a pox on both their houses. It’s sad that Australia del Espiritu Santo (South Land of the Holy Spirit as it was originally named) is well on its way to becoming a God-forsaken hole of a country.

You reap what you sow in Perth, Australia
May 24, 2011 12:17 am

A massive vote of thanks to Anthony and his informed contributors for helping unravel the greatest scientific hoax since the Piltdown Man.
Sadly, Australia is on the verge of environmental collapse.
You cannot destroy 17 billion trees, (yes 17 000 000 000 trees), in the Southwest Land Division of Western Australia and 15 billion trees, (yes 15 000 000 000 trees), in the Murray Darling Basin and not expect REAL climate change.
Carbon dioxide emissions definately do not cause climate change in the Southern Hemisphere, and the climate change evident in the Northern hemisphere probably has a correllation with incomplete combustion, aerosols, old-fashioned air pollution etc.
If increasing levels of carbon dioxide did cause global warming then due to the physical properties of this trace atmospheric gas, and the relative absence of the earth’s most important greenhouse gas, water vapour, we would by now witnessing a roaring inferno in Antartica.
This much was explained to the Federal Member of Parliament and noted climate change sceptic, Dr Dennis Jensen and utilised to destroy the leadership of Malcolm Turnbull, who most foolishly brought into the global warming nonsense.
Fact – Australia’s total annual emissions of carbon dioxide are one quarter of Indonesia’s from deforestation alone.
Fact – the ‘other carbon dioxode problem’, namely ocean acidification is only too real and will damage the Great Barrier Reef.
Prediction –
1. Perth’s dams will effectively run out of water in 2011, (there are only 30 gigaliters of available water left) and rain-dependent Western Australian agriculture is in big trouble;
2. The current La Nina will not go away and will return with avengeance later in the year; and
3. The Indian Southwest Monsoon will not deliver 98% of normal rainfall as predicted by the Indian Meteological Department.

May 24, 2011 2:17 am

Yeah but one of the main reasons for a carbon tax is because Australia is one of the highest per capita emitters of c02. In other words, whatever the reason for this for this high level of c02 per capita emissions, according to the bureaucrats, tax is needed to address it. We must even it all out with other countries, according to good socialist principles.
The trouble with this profoundly stupid logic, is that the reason we are one of the hoghest per capita emitters of c02 is because:
1) we live on the edge of a desert, so there is a very low rural population who would also live on very low wages, and who would lower the average per capita emission.
2) there is a high level of mining activity, which generates high levels of export wealth, and which is fundamental to such an economy that lives on the edge of a desert.
Taxing this high level of c02 per capita also destroys the very things that makes living in such a low-rural population efficient and economical. But of course the bereaucrats never take this into account, just compare us to the billions of poor farmers in Asia with much larger poor rural populaitons, and then compare the c02 emissions.
If it wasnt so stupid if would be funny.

bill blair
May 24, 2011 3:21 am

I agree with homo-sapiens..but he forgot to mention the 1500 jobs lost due to a steel company closing a plant due to ‘future climate regulations making the UK un-competitive’ this is only the beginning when will the MSM wake up!

Alexander K
May 24, 2011 3:32 am

A brilliant article! How sad for Australia – the ‘Lucky Country’ has had awful luck with it’s politics for the last few decades!
Michael Klein, could you please explain, if you can, the advantages of a carbon tax and the good things that come from businesses ‘lowering their carbon footprint’. I would be fascinated to learn this, as the information I have is that all life on earth is carbon-based and that more CO2 in the atmosphere would give us more food from plants.

Patrick Davis
May 24, 2011 4:39 am

“Ian W says:
May 23, 2011 at 3:50 pm
The problem with this is that the assumption is being made that this entire action is about CO2 emissions. It is not.”
I never said it was all about CO2 emissions or “carbon pollution” in Gillardspeak. It IS about de-industrialisation, as you state, which, as a by-product, reduces emissions of CO2 by country, but, in effect, exports those emissions as has been highlighted in another thread. It’s all about passing the buck (For an issue that isn’t).
For me, excluding all the studies, books, blogs etc etc, I have read, all my “memory” of the coming iceage in the ’70’s, all of the physics and chemistry I have studied, the main factor in my deciding emissions of CO2 by humans ISN’T driving climate change is the fact politicians are driving this like the world will end if a firey death, tomorrow (Or October as a revised date for the rapture). Simply, it’s a hoax.
Thanks Bulldust. Yes, Malasia it was. And the first point discussed about moving there was energy costs.

Bruce Cobb
May 24, 2011 7:26 am

Michael Klein says:
May 23, 2011 at 7:55 pm
A carbon tax has the advantage that it gives companies economic incentives to lower their carbon footprint. After the pain of the initial tax increase fades away, payers seek to lower their tax bill by engaging in socially beneficial behavior. I say, go for it, Australia!
Wrong, on several fronts. Firstly, the whole idea of “carbon footprint” is fraudulent, and based on pseudoscience. Secondly, in a global economy, it doesn’t even do what they say it does – decrease “carbon”. If anything, it increases both it, and most likely, actual pollutant levels as well, by forcing industries elsewhere. Thirdly, on what planet is destroying an industry, putting people out of work, and depressing an entire economy “socially beneficial”? Only a complete idiot, or someone who hated Australia (or both) would be in favor of such an insane tax policy.
The original “Cobb and Co” were four Americans (Freeman Cobb among them). They were entrepreneurs, at first bringing with them two Concord Coaches, which were produced by the entrepreneurs Lewis Downing and J. Stephens Abbot, in Concord New Hampshire.
It is that entrepreneurial spirit, as well as the conditions where it was able to thrive which helped make the U.S. economy in particular so robust. It is healthy economies which are able in turn to have cleaner environments, and better living conditions. “Green” policies work against that, and as such are a threat to healthy living conditions of people worldwide. Even the worldwide threat of terrorism pales in comparison.

Mike Williamson
May 24, 2011 6:03 pm

In an article published on May 17th in the National Geographic News, Doug Struck (Cambridge Massachusetts) reported on the changing views of Robert Socolow (Princeton physics and engineering professor) who had, apparently, previously pronounced that by flat-lining emissions, i.e. by taking a series of parallel steps across a number of emissions reducing technologies termed “”wedges””, we could “‘at least limit global temperature rise'”.
Perhaps faced with the rising tide of criticism of this and other A.G.W. theory-supporting claims from similarly minded scientists , the professor has revised his position. Doug Struck writes that the professor’s views are now that……”‘Scientists and advocates also should admit that minimal goals for greenhouse gas reductions are not enough, and the challenge to humanity now is to reduce emissions of the rich to the level of the poor—not to simply allow the poor to catch up'”.
Exporting Australia’s highly efficient, skillfully operated and managed industry to foreign lands will most certainly achieve the objective of reducing our carbon dioxide emissions, here in Australia, but will fail to reduce the ongoing global contribution to atmospheric carbon dioxide. Minerals processing and smelting will still consume the same amount of energy wherever they are located.
There is clearly a strong correlation between carbon emissions and standard of living.
The way to reduce our “”carbon footprint”” to match those of the “”poor”” inhabitants of the third world is therefore to abandon our industry and sit in bare, unlit homes that have been stripped of air-conditioning and energy consuming white goods.
How can government subsidies acquired from tax burdened – and thereby failing Australian industries – maintain a prevailing standard of living as they, the government, claim? Perhaps the government have already accepted the professor’s advocacy and is commencing the process of reducing our “”rich nation”” status!
Clearly the professor’s apparent “‘Utopia'” – that we all should expect to live like the presently “”poor”” throughout the rest of the world – can be achieved with current GREEN ideologies. But it won’t, I am prepared to gamble, ‘save the planet’ from temperature changes, up or down.

May 24, 2011 6:45 pm

Heartfelt thanks Viv
Makes me want to scream your writings from the rooftops.
May it go viral as they say. May your dorpers and other living things on your property multiply, and your common-sense be magnified by the many good people who are otherwise bereft of good leaders and sound advice.
The forces of darkness are alive and well. Within the last few decades, Pol Pot was allowed to destroy anyone who threatened his leadership, and the ‘free world’ did nothing as he shot his people for reasons so slight as the fact that they wore glasses and could therefore read and challenge his obscene hold on power. Mugabe, Gadaffi … the list goes on (not to mention the really big mass murders of totalitarian government in the last century).
A carbon tax will attract carbon police to enforce indefinable laws, and who knows what the response will be from increasingly desperate people as their livelihoods and lifestyles are stripped away. There is a thin veneer of civilisation protecting our precious society and history is replete with stories of once successfull civilisations collapsing, mostly as the direct rsult of onerous taxation. Our current tax rules are bad enough, but this one promises to be a shocker.
More strength to your writing arm.

May 25, 2011 4:58 am

Let’s stop pretending that this is a battle that can be won with words. Let’s arm ourselves and start making lists.

Paul R
May 25, 2011 6:28 am

I think if Raffaello Carboni was alive today he would recognise that the same Blockheads are in power today as were in the colony of Victoria preceding the Eureka Stockade. Ok so the mines are bigger. 🙂
“I came from old Europe, 16,000 miles across two oceans, and I thought
it a respectable distance from the hated Austrian rule. Why, then,
this monster meeting to-day, at the antipodes? We wrote petitions,
signed memorials, made remonstrances by dozens; no go: we are compelled
to demand, and must prepare for the consequences.
The old style: oppressors and oppressed. A sad reflection, very sad
reflection, for any educated and honest man.
For what did we come into this colony? ‘Chi sta bene non si move,’
is an old Roman proverb. If then in old Europe, we had a bird in hand,
what silly fools we were to venture across two oceans, and try to catch
two jackasses in the bush of Australia!
I had a dream, a happy dream, I dreamed that we had met here together
to render thanks unto our Father in heaven for a plentiful harvest,
such that for the first time in this, our adopted land, we had our own food
for the year; and so each of us holding in our hands a tumbler of Victorian
wine, you called on me for a song. My harp was tuned and in good order:
cheerfully struck up,
‘Oh, let us be happy together.’
Not so, Britons, not so! We must meet as in old Europe–old style–improved
by far in the south–for the redress of grievances inflicted on us,
not by crowned heads, but blockheads, aristocratical incapables,
who never did a day’s work in their life. I hate the oppressor, let him wear
a red, blue, white, or black coat.–And here certainly, I tackled
in right earnest with our silver and gold lace on Ballaarat, and called on all
my fellow-diggers, irrespective of nationality, religion, and colour,
to salute the ‘Southern Cross’ as the refuge of all the oppressed
from all countries on earth.–The applause was universal, and accordingly
I received my full reward:
Prison and Chains! Old style.”

Shane Turner
May 25, 2011 11:10 am

Sad news, more and more events in this country are reminding me of Churchills ‘Finest Hour’ speech and in particular this part –
“But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science”

Brian H
June 1, 2011 6:18 pm

Brendon says:
May 23, 2011 at 3:15 am
“… and produce the carbon dioxide that feeds our crops”
Gosh, whatever did crops do before the invention of our primary industries?

They survived on the edge of CO2 starvation; the world’s flora have significantly out-performed the fauna, and driven levels down to the point that its availability limits their growth. It’s time for we fauna to pick up our game, carry our load, stop free-riding! With a flat-out effort, it should be possible to return much of the buried and lost CO2 to circulation.
Our new Goal: “2,100 ppm by 2100 AD!”

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